Saturday, July 11, 2015

Body of Work: From Character Bibles to Author Roadmaps

Writer's Bible for Star Trek Voyager
Writing is not just a succession of endless submissions, humiliating rejections, and slavish discipline to mastery of craft. It also demands the painful scene of self-promotion and very public "flogging." No pain (ouch!)  no gain.


Welcome to "Fifty Shades of Black and Blue and Write and Read"...AKA selling yourself without selling out.

Deep breath. There. Got your safeword? Let's begin.

Self-promotion can be easier than you might think. (E.g., there exist a few tricks. At least, I came across a few. And I don't mind telling you that I firmly believe in taking the road less traveled, especially if I find it is also the path of least resistance.)

Shall we begin by taking up self-promotion? From social media to distance networking to speaking engagements, there are methods of self-promotion that are well-fitted for authors that range from the painfully shy to the outspoken extrovert.

Authors usually appreciate the etymological derivation of  English language words, so we'll start there.

According to the Online Etymological Dictionary "promotion" is a both an ancient and a rather recently coined word. If we begin with the 15th century's definition, which (being an antiquities language lover) I prefer,  "self-promotion" means "self-advancement"...and I'm certain you've noted that it is defined as an action verb.
promotion Look up promotion at
early 15c., "advancement," from O.Fr. promotion (14c.), from L. promotionem,
noun of action from pp. stem of promovere (see promote).

Meaning "advertising, publicity" first recorded 1925.

Promotional "relating to advertising" first recorded 1922.

Now, we can get to the seemingly horrifying "OMG, you mean me?" part of that self-promotion thing. Yeah, I'm afraid that promotion = advertising.

And we know what "self" means...that's "you". (Stop looking over your shoulder. For this exercise it's okay to look at the reflection in your monitor.)
It looks like taking some form of action for authorship advancement is what is meant by self-promotion. I've blogged about this topic previously. Check out the painless self-promotion ideas I've used to good result.

To continue, here's where peering into your own future and that fearsome "body of work" stuff ties in like a birthday present bow with self-promotion.

It's not that difficult to create a character bible while creating your fictional characters for the page. And you know how important those background sketches are to maintaining teh consistency of your work. 
  I'll admit a good character/writing bible is an effective bedrock for the creative process when you're mired in the depths of character creation. For great tips on creating character bibles you could do worse than consult the "Character Bible How-To" online at

Now, let's advance that character bible concept to your author persona, shall we?
Think about this: might taking the time to create an "author's character bible" possibly lay down a sounder footing for your progress in developing the arc of your projected body of work?

Who knows what you know about your life experience better than you? Who would express that unique persona that is you without causing you to reel back with horror from some flack's excess elaboration about you than you?

How do you control your persona? Just like you control the personae of your characters: you write a character backgrounder. A "character bible."

Perhaps prior to writing about the solid story backgrounds of your characters, you should consider writing a personal character bible about the most important character in your writing life. You.

Consider it your rational resume as an author. Include all your germane experiences that apply to the genre in which you write.

And, so you can feel comfortable (as well as honest and able to defend your bio) it should be "The truth, the whole applicable truth, and nothing but the charming and gritty and fascinating truth."

I've recently done this, and it both assisted in creating an author's CV, and gave me insight into what I should and should not attempt to write per any specific storyline. It also helped a bit in fashioning a path towards a road that may lead to a body of work.

Get started. And, if you're feeling frisky, please post it to this blog (or, if your are enrolled in the Clarion Foundation
Write-A-Thon, post it there.)

I'll post my personal author's bible as an example to my Clarion Write-A-Thon profile.

After all: as a writer, when you are writing, you are your most important character.

What's your story?


This article originally appeared at CreateSpace by the author.

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